Ravi Shankar, India's most celebrated musician, now 91, has received many honors and awards, including the three highest civil honors of India. George Harrison called him "The Godfather of World Music", and legendary jazz musician John Coltrane, named his son after Ravi. Ravi Shankar has composed three concertos for sitar and orchestra, the most recent in 2008. He is also the creator of many other compositions, as well as collaborations with Phillip Glass and George Harrison. In 2008 he played what was billed as his last European concert. His 2011 tour includes dates in the United Kingdom.
The Concert For World Peace was recorded November 9, 1993 at The Royal Albert Hall in London, England. I've had the dvd about a week, and have already watched it several times.
The first raga begins with Ravi Shankar on the sitar, and the two women who play the "background drone instruments", Punita Gupta on the treble tanpura, and Gauri Bapat on bass tanpura. Ravi begins slowly, playing and plucking, almost as if tuning the sitar. He even reaches up a couple of times to adjust the tuning keys. After a few minutes, as the tempo picks up, and Ravi's playing becomes more fluid, sarodist Partho Sarathy begins to play. The sarod is much smaller than the sitar, and is held and played, more like a guitar. As the tempo becomes even faster, Zakir Hussain joins in on tabla, and the raga builds to a climax.
It's amazing how Ravi conducts the music, mostly by just looking at the other players, sometimes nodding his head, or using a certain facial expression.
The second raga, begins with all musicians joining in, and has more improvisation than the first. Sometimes Ravi and the sarodist are playing separate patterns, and sometimes it's like an instrumental call and response, with Ravi playing a pattern, and the sarod repeating it. It's great to watch the interplay among the musicians. The raga goes through several rhythms, slow, medium and fast, but always returns to the slow rhythm. Zakir Hussain does an amazing tabla solo, near the end.
Zakir has so much joy in his face, throughout the concert. Sometimes he breaks into spontaneous laughter, as when he is introduced by Ravi. It give me joy, just watching. The musicians are obviously enjoying the performance, as much as the audience is.
At first, I thought Zakir must be no older than his early twenties. After research for this review, I found he was born the same year as I, 1951. He was 42 at the time of this performance. Ravi was 73, and Partho Sarathy was 33. I wanna know their secret of youth and long life.
The length of the concert is 90 minutes. Both audio and video are excellent. The bonus features include a 20 minute film RAVI SHANKAR - SOUL AND TRADITION. The film has Ravi talking about the music, the performers, and some historical background. It also includes comments from his daughter Ahoushka Shankar, his sister-in-law Lakshmi Shankar, tabla player Zakir Hussain and composer Phillip Glass. Ahoushka, born in 1981, is also an accomplished sitar player, who has performed with her father.
I've enjoyed the performance very much. If you're a fan of Ravi Shankar or Indian music, or are interested in something different, I highly recommend this dvd. For me, it's been educational, as well as entertaining.